The mission of Steam Exchange is to facilitate passion-driven learning experiences where individuals explore the arts, themselves and the world through creative play and production. They are a FFTA Artsmatch Grantee. Keep an eye out for the next round of awarded Artsmatch Projects.

Written by: Caitlin, Rachel and Shaun—Steam Exchange

The 2018 Artsmatch grant has been instrumental in getting the technology portion of our STEAM program up and running. We were able to set up internet in our community arts center. We refurbished 8 old computers for the students to use during homework time. Many of our students do not have access to computers at home, and therefore, reliable access to the Steam Exchange computers has been crucial.

We met Shaun as an eighth grader through one of our afterschool programs at Meyzeek Middle School. Shaun had an immense amount of creative talent and ambition, and craved an outlet to channel those skills. He devoted much of his free time to our program because he said it was always engaging, challenging and pushed his artistic skills.

But as Shaun moved on to high school and then ultimately e-school and a part-time job, the necessity to earn money and the competing demands on his time meant Shaun’s attendance in our programs suffered. This past summer, we were able to hire four of our youth participants—one of whom was Shaun, through the Mayor’s SummerWorks Program.

Shaun thrived in his role as a Steam Exchange Intern. He showed an eagerness to understand the behind the scenes tasks that made the Steam Exchange run, became our most adept youth screen printer, completed some impressive graphic design work, and showed great skill as a co-facilitator in workshops with elementary and middle school youth.

He excelled in his summer internship with us, and in the fall, we created a year-round, 15 hour-a-week internship position for him! He is now helping us manage many business aspects of the Steam Exchange, run events, teach classes, write curriculum and more! With an ever-growing diversity of job and creative skills, we can’t wait to see where Shaun’s ambition takes him.

Shaun says, “I have a strong passion for music so ultimately I would like to continue my trade in music production while also improving my drawing and graphic design skills. The most important thing that I learned from creating art is to be open minded, free flowing, and to let your creativity run wild rather than be constricted.”

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